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Neglected water bodies set to be revived

K. Lakshmi
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Field channels are also constructed along with the restoration of lakes to create more irrigation potential as in the case of Koovathur lake near Mamallapuram. —Photo: M.Karunakaran
Field channels are also constructed along with the restoration of lakes to create more irrigation potential as in the case of Koovathur lake near Mamallapuram. —Photo: M.Karunakaran

Several water bodies on the city’s fringes that are in dire need of attention are set to be revived.

The Water Resources Department has come up with a plan to salvage 21 lakes in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, by restoring them, thereby increasing irrigation potential and recharging the groundwater table in their neighbourhoods.

The department is currently awaiting the State government’s approval for the project, which will be carried out as the third phase of the Restoration of Traditional Water Bodies Scheme.

Large water bodies such as those at Manimangalam, Sembakkam, Somangalam, Ottiyambakkam, Thenneri near Walajabad, Mugaiyur near Mamallapuram and Vellancheri near Tiruttani have been identified for rejuvenation in the coming fiscal.

WRD officials said the water body in Thenneri, which is spread over 5.77 sq. km., is the largest among the tanks chosen this time. Most of the lakes chosen have been neglected for several years, an official said.

The Manimangalam lake, is one such, spread over 3.42 sq. km. with an irrigation command area of nearly 840 hectares.

“We plan to strengthen the bunds, repair damaged sluice gates and weirs that release surplus water as well as desilt the lakes. Their boundaries will also be demarcated to ensure that there are no encroachments,” said an official.

The Restoration of Traditional Water Bodies Scheme began in 2011-12, and is being implemented for four years across the State. Every year, the government allots Rs. 50 crore for it.

In the first phase, around 10 lakes were restored at a cost of Rs. 5 crore.

Work to restore 20 lakes taken up under the second phase is now in the final stages and is expected to be completed by December.

Most of the tanks taken up are spread over an area of 5-10 sq. km. and have the potential to irrigate several hectares of land.

In many cases, farmers dependent on these water bodies for irrigation gave up cultivating, as getting water was becoming increasingly difficult, said the official.

A water body in Koovathur village, 15 km from Mamallapuram, was among those recently restored.

A visit to the lake revealed that the leaky weirs and sluice gates had been repaired and an earthen bund has been put in place for nearly 1 km. Its capacity has also been improved to one thousand million cubic feet.

Dinakaran, a farmer in the area said the villagers here grow paddy, groundnut and millet and depend on the lake for their needs.

“We were unable to cultivate properly as the lake would not have enough water during the crop season, as water flows out through the leaky weirs. Now, the department has even constructed a field channel to distribute water to our lands,” he said.


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